Reply to two fresh letters from Count de Gasparin, published in the "Archives du Christianisme," of December 3rd, 1854, and February 24th, 1855. Vevey, 1855.

J. N. Darby.

<04010F> 345

I have no hope, sir, that the sense of the misery of the Church generally will be awakened in the hearts of those who participate in your views, nor of seeing them afflicted with the affliction of the people of God. Though God can work everything in individuals, He employs two means in His word for leading us to judge rightly of the condition of His people: the comparison of this condition with that in which He placed them at the first (Isaiah 5), and then the question, how far this people are in a condition to present themselves before God at the time of the manifestation of His glory (Isaiah 6). People set to work to make churches and elders, because they do not trouble themselves about either the one or the other. To weep over Jerusalem, however certain the safety of the elect might be, was the portion of the heart of Christ. Those who are at ease in Zion, to use an expression of the Old Testament, will always scorn the grief of such as feel how far the holy city has departed from her God. After the first manifestation of the power of God in the establishment of His people, at various epochs, those who were led by the Spirit of God were always a weeping people: not from distrust of the faithfulness of God Himself, but overwhelmed by the feeling that is produced by the consciousness of the little response on the part of the faithful to the power and grace of God. Struck with the beauty of His people, seen (as Balaam saw them) with the eyes of God, they walk mournfully at the sight of their practical condition. A prophet joyful, excepting in the hope of the coming of the Lord, or in the Lord Himself, is not found in the word. I do not touch longer, therefore, on this point; I leave to God, always good, to act in hearts, according to His sovereign grace, to lead them to see the Church and its present condition as He sees them, and to cause them to feel in this respect as His Spirit makes one feel. I shall only occupy myself with what you say. Although grieved and weary with the controversy, I thank you for your articles; you have furnished yet another opportunity for shewing the emptiness of the pretensions which you justify, and the sandy foundation on which you are building. I am glad that you still have courage to broach this subject; you help to make it plain on what errors as to facts, on what mistakes (which I will not qualify for fear of using a hard word), on what arguments, the pretension to do what the apostle did is founded. I will tell you that, if it were not evident to me that the nomination of elders (a novelty which dates back three or four years) is allied with the denial of the weakness in which we are - of the lamentable state of Christians, if it were not a human pretension, a Laodicean pretension in its character, I should not trouble myself about it. If I had anywhere found elders really in operation, I should never have disquieted myself as to the manner of their nomination. Grace and truth, the wonders of the counsels of God, offer me more enjoyment and edification than these human littlenesses, than the questions of deacons and elders, of sad attempts to imitate the outside of the primitive churches, than these official puppets set up by men. I would have left you elders to your liking, provided that you did not weary me with them. But an immense truth, a whole moral condition, lies at the root of this question.

346 I set about answering your two articles.

This time it is no longer an asseveration, sir, it is no longer a reply to my letter. Your cardhouse has fallen, completely fallen; and, thinking that you may still find some buttresses, some props which will give it a little more solidity, you have reformed it, rebuilt it entirely anew. This is why you have been obliged to say, that one must know how to say the same thing over again. In this respect you are right. For such a work one must certainly know how to do so. I acknowledge, to my cost, the truthfulness of your observation. I have been again obliged to read what I have read and refuted so many times; but some love the creation of their own genius, and you do not weary of yours. But what of other people, sir? I cannot say that I am not tired of them. However, I must take your warning not to be weary. One needs it.

You have one advantage in your subject: you flatter the vanity of men. They can constitute churches. To appoint elders who shall be their own, and not those whom the Holy Ghost has ordained, will only make them dearer to the hearts of those who have created them. It is a small matter that there is little reality in all this. It little matters that it is almost blasphemy to say "the Holy Ghost has ordained them," that they are poor imitations, almost caricatures: those who have created them will esteem them all the more for this. Elders ordained by the Spirit would have had an authority proper to them, on His behalf, over the flock: the creatures of the flock will raise the importance of those who created them.

347 But I must reply to your two articles, though I confess that I am almost ashamed of it. It has never before fallen to me to answer such a collection of inconsistencies, such bold assertions so entirely devoid of foundation. One thing gives me some hope that our controversy will not be without fruit: it is that you betray the consciousness of the weakness of what you say. You appeal to the command: you exclaim at the rationalism of your contradicters: but as to the fundamental point of the controversy (and I acknowledge with sincerity and pleasure your candour in this respect), you confess that no other nomination of elders is found in the word than that made by the apostles. Thus it is true you affirm that it is a horrible principle to say, "we cannot do that which they did"; but while you disapprove of this, you thoroughly recognize the fact that the apostles and their delegates alone did it. Farther on I will examine your arguments on this point; I now only state the fact. It is admitted that, according to the word, no one appointed elders except the apostles and their delegates. You say indeed, "In fact nothing is less certain than the ordination of elders and deacons by the hands of the apostles and their delegates alone"; but you add, "because things appear to have happened thus in the two or three circumstances which the New Testament mentions, it does not the least in the world follow that they could not also have been done otherwise."* This is to admit that, according to the instruction with which the New Testament furnishes us, the nomination was made by the apostles and their delegates. Hence you say, "We are not the less permitted to imagine that there may perhaps have been room for other installations of elders besides those which are mentioned in the word of God." Can any one speak more plainly? The word is clear and precise, but one may imagine something beside what is mentioned in the word. Sure enough: there has been no lack of that. We have a heap of things which have been imagined beside those mentioned in the word. But what have they done with Christianity and with Christendom by these imaginations? Was I not right in thanking you for helping me to put things in their true light, sir? And you define the force of your expressions very plainly. You say, "I have said 'perhaps' because I do not pretend to affirm anything beyond that which is written." To say therefore that there were elders appointed by others than the apostles and their delegates is to affirm more than what is written. Only, if one were to listen to you, what is written is not of so much importance, because that might have been done otherwise than as the word tells us: and to do it otherwise you think presents a sight "at which evangelical faith must shudder." It is then clearly ascertained that your ordination of elders is founded on this, that perhaps one may do otherwise than what is said in the word, and that very certainly you have done otherwise.

{*It is Monsieur Demole's famous argument, that it is not said "and not otherwise" an argument which annuls by a single dash of the pen all the rules and directions of the New Testament. It is never said, that I know of, "and not otherwise"; so that in every case one might change everything, and say, it is not said "and not otherwise." It is a complete justification of all the additions and alterations that popery has introduced in christian worship and ordinances. Doubtless that system does not act according to the word, but it is not said "and not otherwise," or, "in fact things may also have occurred otherwise." So that it cannot be reproached with anything on that score. And these gentlemen, who annul all the directions of the word by this single principle, that they may do otherwise when such is not forbidden by a "and not otherwise," accuse us of abandoning the word, and teaching the abolition of the command! I do not know a more fearful principle, or one more destructive of the authority of God and His word, than this, which has now the sanction of Mons. de Gasparin. Remember, reader, that according to him, when the word gives a direction or a uniform example, and that it cannot be proved that it has not been also done otherwise, you have full liberty to abandon the direction of the word and do things as you please.}

348 But you give other examples to support your principle that it is right to do otherwise than what is said in the word; you speak of collections, of the founding of churches, and of other cases. You are unfortunate, sir, in the examples by which you seek to uphold liberty to do otherwise than as the word says. The whole reasoning is a mystification, because it is not a question of acts of authority; but I will only take up your examples. You say, "If the New Testament had only spoken to us of baptisms ordered by the apostles." Now the New Testament has taken good care to shew that such was not the case and that all the faithful were baptized: it even declares to us that Paul was not sent to baptize, and that he did baptize scarcely any one. That is to say, that the New Testament, when it was necessary and suitable to give this liberty to others, gives proofs that there was full liberty for every Christian to do it, and that it was not a question of apostolic authority; whereas in the case of elders, the thing is formally in the hands of the apostles and their delegates. You add, "If the New Testament had only related to us the preaching of Peter and of Paul, should we conclude that, after the death of the apostles, the preaching of the gospel ought to have ceased?" Why again draw a conclusion, sir? This was more important even than baptism, and the New Testament is quite full of examples, instructions, accounts, testimonies of the approbation of God, with rules within the Church which shew (what the elders and their upholders do not like so much), that all, according to the gift and faith that God had distributed to them, preached the word to the world, and in the assemblies. It was done individually without rules; it was done in the assembly according to rule. On the occasion of the death of Stephen all went everywhere proclaiming the word; and in Acts 11 we read, "and the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number believed." Paul speaks of the effect of his bonds on his brethren, and rejoices that some preached Christ though with a spirit of envy.

349 So that we have, in the two cases of baptism and preaching, the proof that, when all was to be free, the Holy Ghost takes special care to prove this liberty undeniably. In that of the elders their ordination is carefully restricted to the apostles and their delegates.

But you present to us the positive cases of collections and the founding of churches. "You are wrong," you say, "to have recourse to supposition." Let us see if you are more fortunate with regard to the facts which you allege. "There are certain acts which the New Testament relates as only accomplished by the apostles." These are, you say, the two mentioned above. "The only collection for the poor, of which it [the New Testament] makes mention, is entrusted to a deputation in which Paul figures." In which Paul figures! But this means that others were charged with it as well as Paul: they figured in it also.

350 Was I not right in saying, in the presence of such frivolous reasons, that I was almost ashamed to answer your article? There is so little truth in calling it an apostolical act, that the apostle declares that, when he should arrive, he would send to Jerusalem those whom they should approve of by their letters, or that he would send with letters those who should be approved of; and, if it were meet that he went himself, they should go with him; and in the Second Epistle he declares to us that he wishes that there should be others for this work, so that no man should blame him in money matters (2 Cor. 8:20, 21). In a similar way the twelve refused to occupy themselves with it, because it did not become them to leave the preaching of the word to serve tables. And you see, in the case of collections, an example of the acts that the New Testament relates as accomplished solely by the apostles! If you speak of the collections themselves, the apostle ordered that the faithful should lay by in store their offering every first day of the week, and he adds, in writing to Corinth, "so that there be no gatherings when I come." This is a singular way of figuring in the collection, thus to insist on everything being done through pure Christian liberality, and that, in order to that end, all should be done without him that he might not appear in it at all, and to take particular care that others and persons chosen by the churches should take charge of it, so that no one might reproach him with anything, adding that, in case of his going to Jerusalem, they should go with him! He was very willing to be employed in it, because it was for the poor Jews whom the apostles had particularly recommended to him (Gal. 2:10). If to this we add the case of the other apostles (Acts 6) we have a proof of his thesis, perfectly worthy of the logic of Mons. le Comte de Gasparin and of the cause which he defends, namely, that there are some acts which the New Testament relates as accomplished by the apostles alone. The proof of it is that the twelve formally refused to do it as a thing which did not become the apostleship, and Paul takes good care that others should have the charge of it, and that, in the case of his going to Jerusalem, they should go with him; but as to the collection all was to be done without him. It is perfect in point of proof.

But, before coming to the foundation of churches, you present us with a still stronger example, and it is one which has such an admirable application to the subject of which you treat, and to the pretension which you set up, that it would not be possible to find a more just one. "The only letters addressed to the churches, which we find mentioned in the New Testament, are canonical epistles written by the apostles."*

{*This is questionable. Inspiration does not depend solely on the apostleship; take for example the Gospels of Mark and Luke. Some persons who fully believe the Epistles of James and Jude to be inspired have questioned their having the two apostles of that name as their authors. The authority of the apostle is quite another thing from inspiration; and inspiration, like that of the prophets, is quite another thing from apostleship.}

351 You say, By what right do we allow ourselves to write to a church? There is, it is true, something more in the nomination of elders - the authority confided to the apostles and by the apostles to the elders, which was not merely inspiration. Your elders have no authority. But let us leave that. I think in the main that the elders whom you appoint have a value (apart from authority) in comparison with the elders appointed by the apostles, equal to that which your letters to churches have as compared with those of the apostles. That is to say, they, in one case, are divinely ordained; in the other not - they are purely human. As the letters of the apostles are divinely inspired, those of Christians now are certainly not; on the contrary, they are often sad productions. I will say nothing, sir, of the modesty and seriousness of the comparison of your letters with inspired letters, the word of God. I do not pretend to make you feel anything. Your comparison is ingenious and admirably applicable: it presents (leaving out the question of authority) a perfect picture of your work. Your elders, compared with the elders ordained by the apostles, are like your letters, compared with the inspired letters.

You come, thirdly, to the foundation of churches. You tell us, "More than that; the only founding of churches of which the New Testament contains the history, is of those made by the apostles." Really! You must set to work, sir, to read the New Testament before venturing into controversy about its contents. The church of Samaria was founded by Philip (the deacon), and then the apostles went down to confer the Holy Ghost on the Samaritans. That at Antioch was founded by those who were dispersed abroad at the death of Stephen. Those are the two most important churches after Jerusalem. Antioch, perhaps, was even more important as the starting-point of Paul's ministry. It was only after the apostles had heard say that Antioch had received Christianity that they sent Barnabas, who afterwards went to fetch Paul; then they both assembled together with the church. At Damascus we also find disciples, but dare I point out a church to you which, with all its pretensions, has not, after all, the honour, so far as it is an honour, of having been founded by an apostle?* It is the Church of Rome. The apostle Paul, he who proclaimed sovereign grace in all its extent and in all its fulness, only went there as a prisoner, a living picture of the history of this city. Before going there, however, he wrote an epistle. There is not the least appearance of his having founded a church. So that Samaria, Antioch, Rome, are already lost to you; but this is not all. In the Epistle to the Colossians the apostle speaks of those who had never seen his face in the flesh, for whom he prays. It appears that there were several such, and the apostle speaks of it as a very simple thing; but amongst others he mentions Laodicea, where we know from the last verses of the epistle that there was a church. I do not question your having a very human idea of the foundation of a church. But whatever may be the means of accomplishing it, one thing is very certain, that the assertion, that the New Testament only mentions or even contains the account of churches founded by the apostles, has its source solely in a superficial examination of the word, which must destroy all confidence in what you say of its contents.

{* In the primitive Church the churches founded by the apostles were carefully distinguished from all others. According to the Catholics it is this which gave so much importance to the Church of Rome. They quote a doubtful enough passage from Irenaeus (we have only a bad Latin translation of this passage, and of the greater part of the work of this good and pious father), after having spoken of other similar cases as an argument against heretics, he says, "Go to Rome" propter potiorem principalitatem. Protestants justly allege that it was archen (origin), because the Church of Rome had two apostles, Peter and Paul, as its founders. For my part, the Epistle to the Romans is a proof of the contrary. However that may be, the Christians of the first century would have been astonished to have heard that all the churches were founded by the apostles. It was said that the celebrated church at Alexandria had Mark as its founder. But I do not wish to go beyond the certain proofs which the Bible furnishes. Here is, if you have not already noticed it (and I must suppose so from what you say), that which may be useful to you in your controversies with those who still bear that name.}

353 The result of the examination which we have made of your arguments is, that the cases which you suppose utterly upset your principles; the facts which you allege are no facts at all; and, from your own confession, the elders whom you install have no more value in comparison with the elders whom the apostle ordained, than your letters have compared with those which the apostles wrote by inspiration.

You are quite as well grounded in what you say about my principles and my views as you are with regard to those of the word; but I shall not trouble myself much about it. There are in your article some more points of importance in the controversy which I will take up.

"Note well," you say, "that it is moreover a question of a ceremony, not of an act of discernment or choice. No one can pretend that the election of elders pertained exclusively to the apostles or their delegates."

Here again, sir, you betray your consciousness that this is the weak side of all your pretensions - that discernment in order to choose is necessary. But I do not recognize the same simplicity (I will not allow myself one word of reproach) that you shewed when you confessed that you had no proof in the word of a nomination of elders by the Church.

Why do you suddenly mix deacons and elders together when we are only speaking of elders, with reference to which examples fail you? The deacons (this is the meaning of the word) of tables, of the wants of the poor, of the administration of the funds of the Church. The Church gave money, its servants administered it. The word does not leave any doubt or any uncertainty on this point; it does not confound the offices as you do; it leaves no room for the confusion by which you seek to escape the force of what it says. It shews us those who fulfilled the functions of deacons chosen by the churches; and the apostles desiring that it should be so. It shews us those as elders appointed by the apostle or by his delegates and by none else. In cases where such must occur without his intervention, the apostle took care that it should be done by his delegate. The elders are bishops or overseers, that is to say, authorities in the Church, to guide it, to watch over it, to take care of it; and the authority comes from above, not from below. The deacons are servants, and servants of the Church. It is thus that scripture speaks. There might be, and there even were, women on whom this title was conferred; whilst all authority in the Church was forbidden to women. It is only by trying to introduce confusion that you can avoid the perfectly clear force of the word. You say, "No one can pretend that the election of elders and deacons pertained exclusively to the apostles and their delegates." There is nothing to pretend, sir; one has only to receive what the word says. It says, that in every case those charged with the money-matters were chosen by the churches; and that, in every case where it was a question of elders, they were chosen by the apostles or by delegates of the apostle. In the one case they were servants (diakonoi), in the other overseers of the Church from God.

354 Now here are the proofs. At Jerusalem there were murmurs with regard to temporal helps; the apostles would not occupy themselves with such matters, and they call upon the Church to choose persons to do it; and this took place (Acts 6). In 1 Corinthians 16:3, persons approved of by the faithful were to take charge of the money derived from the collections. In 2 Corinthians 8 a brother was chosen* by the churches to carry the money which they sent to Jerusalem; for the apostle, though he might go there, would not take charge of it alone, though ready to share in doing so. That is to say, in temporal and money matters the word shews us that the apostles desired men to be chosen by the churches, who should have charge of them.

{* The word used here is exactly the same as that employed by the Holy Spirit to distinguish what the apostles, Paul and Barnabas, did with regard to elders.}

In the case of elders, we find the positive declaration that the apostles Barnabas and Paul chose elders for the churches. This occurred not in one church only, but in every church which they had founded in those countries a short time previously. They returned there, partly in order to do it: it was not a natural consequence of their presence; it was not (as you say would now naturally be done in a similar case) the churches which had called them to their aid; they retraced their steps to visit the churches, and by their own authority they did not install, did not take part in a ceremony, but chose elders for the churches - the word, as we have said, being exactly the same as that which is employed for the choice by the churches of the persons to whom they had entrusted their money. In neither the one case nor the other is it a question of a ceremony, nor of the imposition of hands, but of the choice of him who should fulfil the office - chosen because they had confidence in him for the work to which he was destined. It is precisely that which you said it was not. The faithful were to discern the persons that they wished to have as their messengers and to give them the seal of their approbation (dokimaze). It was not a question of any ceremony, of any imposition of hands; it was precisely a question of choice and discernment, and nothing else. All that you say stands in open contradiction to the meaning and positive and formal declaration of the word. It is impossible to be in more direct and positive opposition to the word than you are in all you say. And how do you seek to elude the force of the positive declaration of the word? "It gives equally detailed directions about the one (deacons) as about the others (bishops); it is, in consequence, quite allowable to believe that election which might be applied to the first, would not become sacrilege with regard to the second." Allow me to tell you, sir, that it is not permitted to those who take their place as defenders of the word, and accuse others of abandoning it by following rationalistic principles, to treat it with such lightness. It is not lawful to trifle with that which is inspired, and to neglect it for some "perhaps," and by such frivolous propositions to say that it is not sacrilege to believe what is not found in it; that which is allowable is to examine the word and to submit to it.

355 What you quote from 1 Timothy 5:22 demonstrates that, even when it is only the ceremony of laying on of hands which is in question, the reference is certainly to discernment and responsibility. The passage is as simple as your interpretation of it is false. Timothy was not to lay hands hastily on any one. It was therefore a question of discernment on his part, and grave responsibility with regard to the person to whom he gave the sanction of his solemn approval, which shews the very evident meaning of that which follows, namely, that if he did it lightly and the person was unsuitable for this charge, Timothy would have his share in the evil that he might do.

As to that which concerns the imposition of hands by the body of elders, the thing is certain, for the word has said it. I do not in anywise dispute it. I believe it in all its simplicity. The elders laid their hands on Timothy, perhaps at the very time that he received a special gift by the imposition of the apostle's hands, as we learn (2 Tim. 1:6). That proves - what? Nothing with regard to the subject of which we treat. It has no reference to it at all. Timothy was not a bishop nor an elder of a church: the communication of a gift by the laying on of an apostle's hands is quite another thing from the nomination of an elder. It is perfectly certain that Paul chose Timothy to be his companion in labour, and that it was not the Church that chose him. My opponent has been deceiving himself by the fact that the word "elder" is found in the passage.

356 And this leads me to another point (the importance of which will be my excuse for this anticipation) in which the superficial way in which you have read the word, and the lightness, I say it with sorrow, with which you treat serious subjects, are evident. You say, "If a mysterious transmission were effected by the laying on of the apostles' hands, if this transmission were more than a blessing, more than a prayer, more than an imposition of hands accompanied now by faith in the bosom of a faithful church, it follows that the legitimate episcopacy does not exist outside the regular series of bishops who are connected with the apostles or their delegates; there only could the primitive charisma pass from one to the other," etc. Then you say, "The gifts, that is to say, the influences," "fill the offices because they are gifted for that," "it is granting that the nature of things will take its course."

The frivolity, confusion, and infidelity which are here mingled together, have, I confess, astonished me. The offices, the gifts, the laying on of the apostles' hands, by which they even conferred the Holy Ghost, with that (if there was any, which is not said) which ordained elders to their offices; the gifts, with the devotedness and the influences natural to man; all is mingled together with a carelessness and a contempt for the word, which would be sad enough were they not accompanied with a depth of infidelity which throws the confusion itself into the shade.

The difficulty in such confusion is to know on which side to begin. We must ever remember at the same time that the point of the question was a choice of elders and not the laying on of hands; but I follow you on your own grounds.

You say, "If a mysterious transmission were effected by the laying on of the apostles' hands, if it were more than a blessing, more than a prayer," etc. But the Holy Ghost was given by the laying on of the hands of the apostles.* It is this power that Simon wished to purchase at Samaria. It is that which is given (Acts 19) as a proof of the apostolical power of Paul. He calls Timothy, in the passage already quoted, to exercise the gift which was in him by the laying on of his hands.

{*I for a moment thought that these infidel expressions with reference to the communication of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the apostles' hands - a thing that is clearly and solemnly stated in the word - might be attributed to Mons. de Gasparin's prepossession on the subject of the imposition of hands on elders. But, however probable that may be, it is never said nor implied that the apostles did lay their hands on them, and the transmission of the Holy Ghost by this means is very solemnly stated in the Acts and in 2 Timothy; and Mons. de Gasparin himself speaks of the charisma, that is to say, the gift conferred at first by the laying on of the apostles' hands. Charisma is the expression used in the word for all gifts conferred by the extraordinary power of the Holy Ghost and has nothing at all to do with elders. Finally, Mons. de Gasparin speaks in an absolute manner of the laying on of the apostles' hands.}

357 There was therefore a mysterious transmission by the imposition of the apostles' hands; to deny it is nothing else but infidelity with regard to the most explicit declarations of the word. There was a primitive charisma conferred by the apostles, and (outside the sovereign operation of God) conferred by the hands of the apostles alone. If you deny it, sir, your system is easy to be understood, it is infidelity with regard to a principal point of the word. Thus conferred, the gifts were not consecrated to an office. The confusion of offices with gifts and ministry is the source of the clerical system, and one of the principal causes of the sin committed by the Church which has disowned the operation of the Spirit of God.

Do you deny this transmission of the Spirit by the hands of the apostles? Do you deny that they conferred gifts?

You are mistaken with regard to my views on "the legitimate episcopacy." The whole clerical system depends on the confusion which you make between gifts and offices. The choice of elders has nothing to do with this transmission. Offices were distinct from gifts, although the same person might possess gifts and be invested with an office.

I have quoted positive passages in the word, which exhort us to obey those who devote themselves to the work. You treat the directions of the word as a principle similar to those of Mons. Proudhon,* and you confound this devotedness with gifts. But the extent of your downright unbelief on this point betrays itself in what you say of gifts. "Gifts, that is to say, influences." Is that your thought of what gifts are, sir? It is only "that the nature of things will have its course." When Paul conferred a gift on Timothy by the laying on of hands, did Timothy simply exercise an influence in which the nature of things had its course? Are all the gifts, the charismata of which 1 Corinthians speaks, only influences? Is what Christ, when He ascended up on high, gave to men (Eph. 4), only influences, in which the nature of things has its course, which "no one will ever hinder"?

{*Note to Translation. The French Socialist.}

358 It is never said in the word that the apostles laid their hands on the elders. This is probable from analogy, but it is never said. The succession could not depend on it according to the word, but the choice of elders is clearly and positively attributed to the apostles, without a word of the laying on of hands which may have accompanied it; you put aside this choice in order to follow your fancy that it is the Anglican system which influences me; you confound offices with transmission of gifts; then you deny all mysterious transmission by laying on of the apostles' hands, which the word declares in a most distinct manner; and finally, in order to destroy the last trace of the operation of the Holy Spirit, gifts are to you only influences in which the nature of things will have its course.

I repeat, sir, that the confusion would be pitiable were not the infidelity of so serious a character. I confess to you that I was astonished at it. Let it be known that Mons. de Gasparin does not believe in a mysterious transmission by the imposition of the apostles' hands; next, that gifts are only influences in which the nature of things has its course. It is at all events well that the true root of this system should be laid bare by its own defenders. I have never doubted but that it was practical infidelity with regard to the Holy Spirit, which is one of the principal characters of the infidelity of our days.* I did not know that it was a formal infidelity boldly avowed on this point.

{*The other form of infidelity is that which refers to the authority and divine inspiration of the word. Sufficient attention has not been paid to the first form of infidelity. The Theological Review of Strasbourg and all that school present both forms, and particularly the first.}

I have answered all that you have introduced afresh in your two articles to try to rebuild your poor house with more solidity.

359 But you repeat also. I might excuse myself replying to things which I have already answered, but I certainly do not expect that people will again search in my preceding pamphlets to find answers in them to what is in your new essay. I will therefore try, without saying everything over again, to answer briefly anything which might present any difficulty to sincere souls.

With regard to the duration of the institution, and to your accusation that we attribute to God the having set up an organization which was not to last, it is a question of a fact. I know not whether you can ignore that, in fact, this organization ceased after the death of the apostles. If we believe in the interpretation which your party gives of the seven churches of the Apocalypse, this organization had already ceased in the time of the apostle John. It is then a question of a fact. The organization did not last longer than the organizers and their delegates. The facts are hard, merciless. Your theory is that God had absolutely destined it to last and that it was not even the sin of man which caused it to fail. Now, in fact it did not last! That is to say, that in order to uphold your manikins of elders, you say that God destined the thing to continue, but that His design completely failed without even the sin of man being its cause. For I repeat, in truth, this organization did not last longer than the life of the apostles and their successors; which fact is incontestable. That does not astonish us who believe the Bible, for the apostle warns us that after his death evil would invade the Church and that all would corrupt itself. He tells us that already, during his lifetime, all those who were in Asia, the part where he had so laboured, had forsaken him, and that in general all sought their own and not the things which are Jesus Christ's. We have seen in the word, that in all ages the analogy of the conduct of men, whatever may have been the ways of God concerning them, strengthens the conclusion which facts and the apostle's testimony force us to accept. The history of Adam, Deuteronomy 32, the history of the priesthood, the history of Solomon, the whole of the biblical history, teaches us that man has never been able to keep the blessings which God has confided to him. As to you who think yourselves capable of "preserving and restoring" what the apostles established, you are indifferent to all this biblical instruction: you can easily do what the apostles did: it is even your duty.

360 Having again settled this important fact that this organization has not lasted, and weary with repeating what has been said, I will follow you step by step. You say of me, "First he maintains that the instructions given by Paul to Timothy and Titus on the subject of elders do not contain a command." I never said this, sir, nor anything like it; your assertion has no foundation whatever in facts.

All that the apostle said to Timothy or Titus has the force of a command, since it is the direction given by the Spirit of God. What you say is entirely false.

I did not say that what is said in the letters to Timothy and Titus does not contain a command, but that in the whole Bible there is not this command, namely, a command to make elders - that there is nowhere a general command to ordain them. You allege that there is a general command, which consequently concerns you, and obliges every Christian to ordain them, so that they are disobedient if they do not do so. This is what I deny - not that what is said to Timothy has not the force of command, but - that there is such a command to us in what is said there and elsewhere. I say again: Let us re-establish the facts.

As to history, we have the fact that the apostles, not incidentally, not invited on account of their wisdom and their gifts, but led by the Spirit of God, of their own act, return to the churches which they had founded and choose (this is the word) elders for them; and that with deliberate intent the apostle Paul left Titus in Crete to establish them (not incidentally, not by private invitation, but of his own act) in every town, as he himself had done in Asia Minor.

Next, we have several epistles addressed to the churches which treat of all the subjects of interest to Christians, which speak with special detail of the internal order of a church where the need of superintendence was painfully felt; but never a word, an insinuation, a supposition, that churches themselves had to do with the ordination of elders; they were to be in submission to their spiritual guides; but that they were to appoint them, or to ordain them, does not for an instant enter into the thought of the Spirit. On the other hand we have quite confidential epistles to the delegates of the apostle, one of which is addressed to him whom he had left at Crete expressly to establish elders, and in which directions with regard to the proper qualifications for this office abound. And permit me, sir, to tell you here that, when you say that it is a question of a ceremony, not of choice and discernment, you contradict the meaning of the passage. The apostle does not detail all the qualifications necessary to a bishop for a ceremony, but in order that choice may be made with discernment. When it is said "Lay hands suddenly on no man," it is a matter of discernment, of choice, and not a simple ceremony. I confess that I find it wearisome to reply to such arguments - I am wrong - to such assertions, which one grain of common sense suffices to condemn. The historical facts then, which are clear and positive, the complete silence maintained in the epistles to the churches on this subject, the large development on this point given in the confidential letters addressed by the apostle to his delegates, to one of whom the establishment of elders was specially confided, all this demonstrates clearly enough and incontestably what has in fact taken place, and the thought of the Spirit in this respect. The apostle chose, or his delegates chose in his stead, it is to these that the Spirit confides all the necessary instructions for doing it rightly and never to the churches.

361 What is the reply made to these positive facts? to these most clear precepts? A sentence is taken in the confidential letter to Timothy, in which it says, after having spoken of several points, "These things write I unto thee . . . that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God." This is said to be a command for all Christians to ordain elders. The apostle had left Timothy at Ephesus to watch over the church during his absence and particularly with regard to doctrine. He hoped to return soon, but he desired that Timothy should be instructed so as to know how to act suitably during his absence. He speaks of the doctrine of grace in contrast with law; then, this grace being addressed to all, how they ought to pray for all; that men were to do so in such and such a manner; that women, on their part, were to pursue such and such a course of conduct. Then he says, "If a man desire the office of a bishop," he must have such and such qualifications, his wife must be such and such; so with the deacons; and at the end of all this he says, "I tell thee these things that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself." Here is all that can be found in the way of command, positive command, to all Christians to choose for themselves elders in spite of all that is found in the word. A pope (and the apostle had the authority which the pope assumes) writes to a bishop to point out what are the qualifications necessary for a priest, and, as he watches over the whole Church, he instructs him in the order to be followed, and finally he says, "I write to thee, bishop, so that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave in the Church" - and this is a command to all the faithful to appoint priests, without bishops or a pope, or any other authority in the Church! But one must have lost common sense to reason in this manner. And you are conscious of it, sir, for you say after all, "the apostles, who found an institution, impose on us by that very fact the command to preserve or to restore it." If there were a positive command in the Epistle to Timothy, there would be no need of this remark. Why say "by that very fact," if it is a universal and positive command to all Christians?

362 Founding an institution does not necessarily imply a command to restore it, because it is possible for an institution to depend on the authority of the founder, and it may be impossible to restore it. An emperor appoints his son as viceroy, and he sends him instructions with regard to the appointment of magistrates, saying to him, "I write these things to thee that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave in the kingdom": is it a proof that everyone should make magistrates for himself, each in his little coterie, on his own authority, although the emperor might still be living? How often must one expose the futility of such arguments? You say that the apostle alters his language in saying how one should behave. It is not so. He does not change his language suddenly here; it does not alter at all in the sense which you indicate; he had already used the same terms before, but there is a change which you have not remarked. He speaks of the duties and behaviour to be maintained by ordinary Christians; men were to pray, women were to dress themselves modestly, etc. Now in this case he speaks about the duties of all. I desire that men do so and so, and likewise that the women, etc. But when he comes to the question of bishops, which was not the duty of all, he no longer says a word about the duties of Christians in general with regard to this. Here he suddenly changes his language and indicates to Timothy alone the necessary qualifications, and the reasons why they were to be required; having previously applied his words to all, because it was a question of the conduct of all, he suddenly changes his language when he begins to speak of bishops, and says not another word of the duty of Christians; but he ends his remark not by saying, "I write so that the faithful, or I wish that the faithful, should know how they ought to behave," as he had said previously; but "I write that thou mayest know." There is a change. Before speaking of bishops, he said that he wished that all should act so and so. As soon as he speaks of bishops, he ceases to do so and addresses himself to Timothy personally and individually.

363 The thing is very simple. When the apostle gives directions to Timothy with reference to the conduct which he should cause Christians to maintain, every Christian will understand that it is a command for himself concerning the conduct that he ought to follow. When he speaks to Timothy as to an authority in the Church of his conduct as such, this is certainly a command, but office and authority are not attributed where they are not possessed. A direction given to a person in an important office for his conduct in that office, is a command like any other, but to apply it to oneself as if it were addressed to one when one has not the office, is an application which is neither just nor modest.

It is a denial of the distinction of ministry. If directions and exhortations are given to those who exercise any ministry whatsoever with reference to their ministry, are the force and authority of the directions denied, because (not having the ministry) they are not applicable to oneself? or are such exhortations commands which order all to create ministry when it is no longer possessed? The apostle gives directions for the use of tongues and of gifts of interpretation. Is his authority rejected because it is no longer applicable to them? Do those commands oblige you to restore what has been lost, as the Irvingites have pretended to do? The difference lies only in this: one may imitate elders and boast of doing so, whereas the imitation of tongues only gives occasion for ridicule. After all, there have been and there still are more persons carried away by the pretension to the gift of tongues, than by the re-appointment of elders. You say, "The rules which the apostle addressed to Corinth being commands for every church, the rules which he addressed to Timothy are also commands for every epoch." Yes, you feel the weakness of your cause. Why this change of "churches" into epochs? The thing is that the Epistle to Timothy was not addressed to any church. The rules addressed to Corinth concerning tongues are they for every epoch? Yes, you say. I also say Yes, if tongues exist. When there are none, these rules cannot be applied, and this does not affect the authority of the word. The rules given to Timothy with regard to his own behaviour as delegate are applicable to every epoch if there is a Timothy. The rules addressed to Corinth were for every church: be it so. The rules addressed to Timothy were - let us say, without altering anything - for every church: you have not dared to say it. They were in a great measure directions given to a man invested with a special office concerning his behaviour in this office, a light for all, because he was to watch over the conduct of all and so all are referred to in the epistle. But it is not true that the epistle was addressed to all the churches: to affirm this would be to deny a special ministry, to destroy it in its most important parts. If the letter was not addressed to the churches of that time, and if they could not use it with intelligence, without acknowledging the special position of Timothy, it is the same now. The Church uses these epistles, but it uses them as having been addressed to a Timothy and not directly to the churches themselves.

364 Your second point is "Then he maintains that these instructions do not organize offices excepting for the duration of the life of the apostles and their delegates." I have, in fact, answered this assertion. The apostle does not say anything either for or against as to the duration of its organization. He does his duty in the work which God entrusted to him and he leaves the rest to God. As a prophet he announced that it would go on growing worse, and that the mystery was already developing itself. That which he said has been, and still is, being accomplished. What I say is, that the organization has certainly not lasted. You dare not contradict me without giving the lie to the whole of history. The instructions are not occupied with the duration. They give the qualifications suitable to a bishop, nothing else, neither more nor less. What I have said is an incontestable historical fact. God in His wisdom has not spoken in a way to allow Himself to be belied by facts. But, moreover, you think that God has put before us in the word the prospect of a long duration of the Church, for which He should provide an organization. You say it, sir, but the word of God does not speak thus. Quite the contrary. You speak of the whole future of the Church, as if God had proclaimed it, and as if He had prepared everything for a long future on earth. There is nothing of this. The Church is called on high. The word presents the coming of Jesus as the hope of the Church, and teaches the Church always to expect Him. The thought of the long duration was that of the unfaithful servant, "My lord delayeth his coming"; this is what causes him to unite with the world and to usurp authority over the other servants. The idea on which all your system, all your arguments, are founded, is a guilty one. The Bridegroom has, in truth, delayed His coming; the wise and foolish virgins have surely slept. Perhaps you think that they have done well to sleep.

365 It has been said to me, in order to shew that the Church had not failed, that there was no occasion to blame them for sleeping. Perhaps you think that the mystery of iniquity has worked without the Church having failed, that all forsook Paul, that all sought their own interests, without its having been sin. I have already said, sir, that I have no pretension to make you feel anything whatever with regard to this. But here is what is certain. Such has been the conduct of the Church. The word of God does not speak of a long future for the Church, but of the unfaithfulness of the servant who expected it. The organization established by the apostle did not last more than thirty years after his death. He foresaw and predicted the general ruin of his work as a testimony set up on the earth; he even felt it before his death. I leave it for you and everyone to say if there has been sin in what has taken place.

In your second article you give the following expression to the views which you combat. "What was practised by the apostle cannot be carried on by simple Christians." Then there is a long series of declamation and rhetoric upon it, the clatter of which seeks to hide weakness. You waste your trouble on any reasonable person. Marriage was practised by the apostles, as were charity, preaching, and manual labour. The question is entirely a different one. You have yourself in principle made the distinction in the apostolic work which every sensible man must make; but you have not known how to allow it in your rhetoric. You have distinguished between what the apostles did according to their apostolical authority and what they did as any other Christian, common to all by the grace of God. The question for us is to know whether the choice and nomination of elders was not a part of what they did in virtue of their apostolical office. It is really a want of common sense to say that our not being able to imitate them, destroys in its essence the idea of command. The notion of command is effaced before this theory. The theory is a theory of your own imagination; but even if it were not, it has nothing to do with the commands of the apostles. I may obey their commands by my acts without being able to imitate theirs. Does obeying a king or emperor mean that one can imitate his actions? But I am wrong in replying to such high-flown words, the more so as I am agreed on the ground of the distinction which you make. But when you come to its application, you go completely wrong as usual. You point out as exclusively apostolical, "as a part of the apostolical authority which is connected with their qualifications alone, with the unique fact of the apostleship, miracles, the direct testimony of Jesus Christ, the fact of their writing theopneustically the canonical books, of their founding institutions, and giving orders which are the commands of the Lord." These two last acts are the only ones exclusively connected with the fact of the apostleship. Others did miracles. There were at least five hundred other direct witnesses of Jesus Christ. Mark and Luke wrote theopneustically without being apostles; perhaps James and Jude, who left us inspired epistles, were not. There is everywhere the same thoughtless assertion, the same ignorance of facts and of scriptural principles. In the second category of the acts which you enumerate as common to the apostles and other Christians, you say amongst other things the necessary principles of good order and organization. What part of apostolical or other action is a necessary principle? A principle is not activity - is not an act connected with an office. But what is the difference between founding institutions and an organization? The first act is exclusively connected with the apostleship; he has the principle of organization in common with every Christian. But when they founded institutions, the principle of organization received a form which has authority; for their directions are commands. We have no need of other organization than what they left us. The point is to make, to act, to ordain with authority; and you have not touched upon this only question which we have to decide. When one wishes to act on the principle or organization established by the apostles; when one seeks for the institutions which they founded and which have disappeared for nearly eighteen centuries; when this part of the working is wanting, which re-establishes the institutions, which chooses suitable persons, which installs them in their office with the authority of God, so that it can be said "The Holy Ghost has made you bishops"; when the point is to know if conferring authority on the behalf of God was not an act which was connected solely with the office of apostle, that is to say, that on the one and only question not one word is to be found in what you say here. You have nothing to say on the only question of which we treat. We do not speak vaguely of a necessary principle of organization. The elders had authority in the Church, other Christians were to submit to them. Whence had they this authority? From whom did they hold it? It was of suck a character and its source so sure, that one could say "The Holy Ghost has made you." Did they hold this authority immediately from the apostles and their delegates, and in this way directly from Christ, who had given authority to the apostles to act, or did they hold it from the mass of the faithful, or from each little voluntary assembly? The word shews us that their authority was derived from the apostles, that they were chosen either by the apostle or his delegates. We are agreed that the apostle founded institutions, we acknowledge a general principle of organization established by the word. We ask, From whom did the persons who possessed the authority of elders receive this authority? Can a voluntary assembly of Christians confer it? The question here is not of mysterious transmission - we do not speak of gifts; it is a question of conferring authority, for the elder possessed it. Who was it that conferred it? You make the people to be the source of this authority; as for me, I believe that Christ, acting by the apostles on whom He had conferred the power to do so, is the source. You say that the conferring of this authority is not noticed as an exceptional act belonging to the apostle alone. No act is thus mentioned in the word; but most of those which in your haste you have drawn attention to were done by others; and the only one which is presented in the word as accomplished by the apostles and their delegates alone is the choice and nomination of elders. It is the only thing bearing the form of an institution founded by the apostles in the establishment of which there was an action connected solely with the apostleship. There was a revelation about the Lord's supper, but we know that the Lord had instituted it, and that other Christians took part in it. The apostles had an authority by which what they bound on earth was bound in heaven. They gave rules in the Church, but excepting this general principle which everyone acknowledges, the only exclusively apostolical act, and the only one which you omit, is the one which occupies us, namely, the choice and nomination of elders. It is not that the apostles did not have revelations and did not communicate the will of God, but other prophets might have done so, and even did. Authority lay in the apostles' hands.

368 All accusations, such as radicalism and rationalism, seem to me vulgar and unworthy of a man who has sufficient self-respect not to substitute abuse for argument; but I ought to make it plain, sir, that your idea of radicalism is false. Radicalism may have an organization as well as any other system; it has its regulations, its magistrates, its state councils (as is the case in the country of which you are a subject), as well as conservatives and aristocrats. The radical principle does not lie there, but it consists in this, that the people are the source of power, and have the right of placing at their head those who ought to govern them. Now this is precisely the system which you adopt with reference to elders. As for me, I contend that this power comes from above, from authorities constituted by Christ Himself, namely, the apostles.

You have made comparisons, but they fail as to application, because the subject of the investiture of individuals with offices and the question which occupies us is this, "Who has a right to put them there?" Now the comparisons which you make do not affect this subject in the least.

In conclusion, there are directions given to Timothy, that he might know how he ought to behave himself in the house of God under every circumstance; but there is no general command to create elders. With reference to bishops, when any one desires to be one, the qualifications required are enumerated in a letter addressed to Timothy delegated by the apostle at Ephesus. Nothing more - nothing less. The expression "how one ought to behave" is not even connected with the appointment of elders. It is at the end of several directions with regard to other points. The deacons and their wives come between the two, and before that prayers and the conduct of women, etc. In the midst of these directions the apostle describes the character required of a bishop, if such a case should happen, without the least trace of a command to Christians to create any. To say that a letter to a superior authority, to a confidential delegate (and Timothy was such), in which it is said, "I write to thee that thou mayest know how one ought to behave" (for what you say of "one must," as being emphatic, has no foundation), to say that it is a command for every person to exercise acts of authority, which are specially confided to this authority, and this at all times, is an evident futility; it is as ridiculous as regards the individual who wishes to apply it to himself as it is dangerous for the whole Church of God.

369 There is only one more point for me to touch on - law. I am not astonished that you forsake truth here; that you do not know what you are doing in placing yourself under law. It is a very ordinary case. That the will of God, wherever it is expressed in the word, ought to govern the Christian, is what every truly converted soul acknowledges. But, sir, the word of God is wiser than you are; it never places the Christian under law, nor under the obligation of the law after the death of Jesus. It was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. It speaks of commands: they are dear and precious and not painful to the real Christian. But the word never places a Christian under law; and I repeat, the word comes from a God who knows the heart of man, and who knows what is necessary for him and what is hurtful or impossible for him. He employed the law to convince of sin. The word expressly says that the law is not for the righteous; you say that it is. I believe in the word and in the wisdom of my God more than in you. I believe that He knows how to preserve holiness, without which no man shall see Him, better than you do, better than human wisdom does. He knows; and whoever is taught of Him and knows his own heart knows that the law, every law, is a minister of death and condemnation, and it is impossible that it should be anything else; and that if man is placed under a law in what way soever, either it must condemn him, or the obligation of the law must be weakened.

I see plainly that you are ignorant of this. You speak of the idea of obligation to the law, of the idea of law. Now if, being under obligation, you are bound by the law, you have certainly not truly kept it (though your new nature loves it, and love is the fulfilment of it); and if you have not kept it, and you are under obligation to do so, it condemns you, it justly drives you from the presence of God. If you are bound by the law, and have failed in its obligations (and such is the case), you must either weaken it and annul its obligations, or perish. Obligation to a law requires either that it should be kept, or that one should be condemned by it: there is nothing else. It knows nothing of grace. It could know nothing of it. You have not kept it. Are you bound to do so? You must wipe off this obligation in order to escape. Faith and the grace of God alone maintain the authority of the law, because I acknowledge myself lost if I am under the law, and I see that Christ has undergone its curse, and has placed me in an entirely new position which unites two things: perfect righteousness before God, because it is the righteousness of God accomplished in Christ; and life, the participation of the divine nature according to the power of resurrection. I cannot have the two husbands, two obligations at the same time, the law and Christ. In Christ I am dead. Now the law has authority and is binding as long as we live; but being dead (because Christ died for me) I am delivered from the law that I may belong to another (this is the plain language of the word), to Him who is raised again from the dead that we may bring forth fruit unto God. Are you bound by the law? The law will strictly maintain its authority and this obligation; it must do so, and will condemn you as surely as you are a sinner. If I am dead, it has no more authority over me, for it cannot cross that barrier; I belong to Another. Through the law I am dead to the law, that I might live unto God; it is no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me.

370 Christ was under the law during His life, in resurrection He is so no longer. Now the commands, whether they be called of God, or whether they be called of Christ, have another character for the Christian. All that Christ has said, all that His apostles have said, everything in which the Old Testament displays His will, direct and govern the life which we already possess, and have the authority of the word of God, of God Himself, over our soul. I have life; the words of Christ, His commands (and whatever is found elsewhere in the word of the same character is the same in principle), are the expression of this life in Him, its fruits in every respect according to the perfection and according to the will of God Himself, and they are the directions for this life in me. By following them I walk according to the thoughts of God, and according to His will; it is the law of liberty, because I already possess the life of which it prescribes the perfection; and being the expression of the will of God, it is also obedience. But if you "return to the command" under the form of law, you return to death and condemnation. The law does not give life, does not give strength for holiness, any more than it justifies. From what you say, I do not believe you are delivered from the law. If you had felt what the law is, I do not think you would have said, Let us return to the command, or could have spoken of again setting up the observance of the command; because you would feel that on this ground you are lost, because the law has not lost its force, and throughout it is always (for man) a ministry of condemnation and death. I do not in the least reproach you. Many dear and precious souls are under law.

371 There are some who, wishing to teach the law, know neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. Have you read this part of the Epistle to Timothy? But what I know is, that the New Testament speaks to us of the law as of that from which we are delivered. It tells us that we are bound by the law as long as we live, but that we are dead; and it also says that we cannot have two husbands at once, the law and Christ (that is to say, be bound in two ways to two objects). The apostle expresses himself thus, "To them that are without law, as without law (being not without law to God, but ennomos Christo)" - in subjection to, bound by obedience, to Christ. You cannot watch too carefully over holiness, and we are sanctified unto obedience. Independence of will is the principle of sin; but the law is not a means of attaining holiness. It does not give a new will, nor strength when one has one. The New Testament always speaks of it as a means of death, of condemnation, and of weakness; those who are of the works of the law (and these are not bad but good) are under the curse. It is not for the righteous (dikaio nomos ou keitai), nothing is more absolute. It is ignorance of what the heart of man is to imagine that he can be under a law coming from God and live.

As to the opinion you may form of my views on this point, it will be to me a matter of utter indifference; because the word of God is as clear as day. And it is evident to him who knows what man is, that man can have nothing to do with the law without weakening its obligations, except to be condemned by it; and that grace alone maintains its authority, because Another has borne its curse: because the word tells me that I cannot have two husbands at once. And if I put myself under a mixture of law and grace, I must pray God, as the people did with Moses, to hide His glory from me as unbearable; whereas, when I see it in Christ by the ministry of righteousness and of the Spirit, I can contemplate this glory with unveiled face, and be changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.

372 Finally, sir, if I have failed in courtesy in alluding to "the failure of Christians," I ask your pardon for it, as well as for everything for which any apology may be due. I have alluded to it as to a published book, in which one may imagine that your principles are more or less brought out. You have expressed them here, and I do not think more dangerous ones are to be found - namely, to use the expression of doing all in the name of Jesus, and adding that this does not hinder one from having studies and pleasures which have not Christ for their object. I do not believe that you have the slightest thought of using the liberty to which we are called for licentiousness; reproach of that kind would be out of place. But I leave it to every serious Christian to judge whether such a principle does not open a wide door for a life, I will not say, of open sin, but for a life where Christ is forgotten, in order to pursue every other possible thing as an object, and to find one's pleasure everywhere excepting in Him. I am free with regard to everything; but to pursue as an object anything but Christ, to find my pleasures out of Him, and to use the expression of doing everything in the name of Jesus in that sense, is a loose and dangerous principle, if there be such. It is doubtless not law; but an invitation to the heart to leave Christ aside as its object, in order to do everything according to one's own taste and pleasure under shelter of His name.

Certainly this is not a narrow way. This is not "one thing I do," or esteeming all but dross that I may win Christ. Perhaps you may be inclined to consider this as purely apostolical, as a walk connected with that office alone, with the sole fact of the apostleship; nevertheless here, in words which ought to be considered as a command, as a law, if you will - yes, sir, it is here, however weak our steps may be, that we are called to imitate Him. I am not under the law, but if God sanctifies us and directs our hearts to a new object which we pursue by the power of the Spirit, what you say is not the means of sanctification, of communion with God, of happiness - it is using the name of Christ, and the command to do all in His name, to justify one's having other objects than Him, and seeking one's pleasure elsewhere than in Him. You wish to be bound by the law, on the one hand, and to have other objects and other pleasures than Christ, on the other. It is a sad picture of a degenerate Christendom, very different from that which the Spirit gives us. But it is quite in keeping with the constitution of churches and the modern installation of elders.